Highlights & Observations From Rams’ Week 7 Monday Night Football Victory Over Bears
Jalen Ramsey
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough division loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Los Angeles Rams got back on track with a comfortable 24-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 7.

The win improved the Rams to 5-2 on the season, which was much-needed to keep pace in the gauntlet that is the NFC West. L.A. is now just 0.5 games behind the Seattle Seahawks for first place, although they’re also just 1.0 games above the 49ers, who are in last place, so it’s a very tight division as the halfway point of the season approaches.

As far as this game goes though, it was a dominant overall performance for the Rams, who never trailed to a Chicago team that came in with a 5-1 record.

It’s no secret that the strength of the Bears is their defense and pass rush, in particular, and Sean McVay did a nice job of neutralizing that by going up-tempo a lot and utilizing play-action.

The Rams went seven plays and 52 yards, capped off with a Jared Goff touchdown to Josh Reynolds on their second drive to take an early 7-0 lead. They carried a 10-3 lead into the halftime locker room, and then the Rams broke it open with two third-quarter touchdowns, one by Malcolm Brown and the other by Gerald Everett, to essentially put the game away considering how well the defense was playing.

There was one mistake, a Robert Woods fumble on an end-around that led to a Bears defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter, but other than that, L.A. was nearly flawless in the second half.

Here are some key observations, both good and bad, from Monday night’s victory:

Have a night, Johnny Hekker

It’s not every night that a punter gets a game ball, but that was the case with Johnny Hekker this week, and deservingly so as he made as big of an impact on the game as anyone.

Hekker punted the ball five times on the night, with all five landing inside the 10-yard line. That set the Rams’ defense up nicely, allowing them to constantly get pressure on Nick Foles knowing the run game wasn’t an option in longer down and distance scenarios.

Hekker has been arguably the best punter in the league for a long time, and he showed why in this game.

Brandon Staley is the real deal

To elaborate more on the Rams’ defense performance though, it was an absolutely dominant one. It’s no secret that the Bears’ offense isn’t exactly elite, but they do have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Foles and came in with a 5-1 record, so they had been doing enough to win games.

The Bears had 11 drives on Monday night though and the result was one field goal, five punts, two interceptions and three turnovers on downs. That’s elite stuff by the Rams defense regardless of who the opponent is.

Many people criticized the Rams’ decision to let go of Wade Phillips for an unknown commodity in Brandon Staley, but to this point, he has been the real deal.

In seven games this season, the Rams defense is allowing 312.9 yards per game, which is sixth-best in the NFL and 17.7 points, which is second-best behind only the Baltimore Ravens.

This is an improvement that no one could have predicted considering the Rams lost key defensive contributors like Cory Littleton, Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews, Eric Weddle and others.

Obviously it helps having both Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey playing at All-Pro levels, but even their greatness can be attributed to Staley’s scheme as well. Staley said before the season that they wanted to move Ramsey around so he can show off his versatility and it has worked to perfection to this point with him wreaking havoc in a number of different ways.

This win had to have been extra special for Staley, who used to work for the Bears under Vic Fangio. The same can be said for Leonard Floyd, who got two sacks against his former team.

Secondary continues to impress

Speaking of Ramsey, how about that Rams secondary?

Ramsey was making plays. John Johnson III was making plays. Taylor Rapp was making plays. Troy Hill was making plays. Darious Williams was making plays. Terrell Burgess was making plays (before getting injured).

I’ve criticized this secondary at times, but they have stepped up in a big way so far this season. That unit was perhaps the Rams’ most unknown commodity going into the season after undergoing a complete makeover over the last year with the acquisition of Ramsey and departures of Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Weddle.

The young guys have stepped up though, including Jordan Fuller, who is currently out with an injury. That makes things easier for the rest of the defense as the pass rush now has more time to get home and Staley can blitz more knowing he has guys that can hold it down in the secondary.

With some tough matchups on the horizon, it is good to see the Rams defense finding an identity and having success at all levels.

Second half dominance

The Rams are outscoring opponents by a score of 93-36 in the second halves of games this season. No, that is not a typo. They have been that dominant.

Part of that is a credit to the second-half adjustments the coaching staff has made, which McVay discussed going into this week. Some of it is also a credit to the players and their conditioning and ability to continue fighting until the final whistle regardless of what the scoreboard says.

Goff is also a big part of that equation as he has the best fourth-quarter passer rating in the NFL so far this season.

All of that has contributed to L.A.’s second-half dominance and in my opinion, it is a huge indicator of why I actually think they are a good team and not just the benefit of an easy schedule to start the season.

Both of their losses can be attributed to poor starts in the first half, so hopefully they can come out with more intensity in the first halves moving forward and not have to rely on second-half adjustments to stay in games.

Time for a kicking change

The Rams’ kicking situation is something I have been monitoring all season and rookie Samuel Sloman’s struggles continued against the Bears. He missed yet another field goal, kicking the ball right into the line on a 48-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.

We knew Sloman was on thin ice when the team brought in veteran Kai Forbath last week, so it would be pretty shocking if he is still on the active roster by next weekend.

In four games last season, Forbath went 11-for-11 on field goals and 11-for-12 on extra points. For comparison, in seven games this year, Sloman is 8-for-11 on field goals and 18-for-21 on extra points. It’s time to make a change.

Dolphins up next

It’s a quick turnaround for the Rams this week as they will now travel to the East Coast for the fourth time in eight weeks this season to take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.

For the Dolphins, it will mark the debut of top draft pick Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback so hopefully Donald and the Rams defense can give him a proper greeting to the NFL.

With how difficult the NFC West is though, this is a game the Rams certainly need to win to keep pace.